India’s premium smartphone market has been dominated by the three major brands – OnePlus, Samsung and Apple. With Apple’s declining sales in India, it was up to OnePlus and Samsung to capture the top spot in India’s premium segment of smartphones. And, according to a recent report by Counterpoint, the battle for 2018 seems to have been won by Samsung, albeit with a marginal difference. But there is a twist as well.

India’s Premium Smartphone Market

Samsung may have secured the numrouno position in the premium smartphone market in India, but when it came to quarterly performance, the scenario changed upside down. Despite leading the yearly shipment chart in 2018, Samsung did not actually lead in all of the quarters comprising the year.

On the contrary, OnePlus led for the premium smartphone market of India for three straight quarters in 2018. What’s even more interesting is, OnePlus accounted for a sizeable share of quarterly shipments in Q4 2018. Then how did Samsung end up topping the segment?

Despite coming second to OnePlus for three quarters in 2018, Samsung managed to keep the narrow gap. It continued to be hot on the heels of the Chinese brand. Hence, the Korean smartphone giant ended up edging past OnePlus by leading for just one quarter in 2018. While OnePlus was able to amass a market share of 33%, Samsung tipped them with a 34% market share. The other major company to have a significant share of India premium smartphone market was Apple. The Cupertino giant captured 23% of India premium smartphone market in 2018.

 

The dominance of the big three

The premium smartphone segment isn’t plagued with as many competitors as the budget segment is. However, while Xiaomi continues to own the budget segment, the premium segment is a different story altogether.

Despite having less number of competitors, a small number of companies capture a huge share of the India market. OnePlus, Apple and Samsung, combined, accounted for a surprising 92% share of the premium smartphone shipments in Q4 2018.

Best Selling Premium smartphones India in 2018

Not everything went in the favour of Samsung; Despite being the market leader of the premium smartphone market in 2018, Samsung failed to top the chart of favourite premium segment smartphone of 2018. It was OnePlus who dominated the list with two premium smartphones at the top.

The OnePlus 6 grabbed the top spot with 15% of the premium smartphone market, followed by OnePlus 6T with 10%. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus ranked at third position accounting for 8% of the market.

Apple’s inability to crack the Indian puzzle

India represents a huge market for smartphones throughout the world. While the Chinese brands seem to have identified this and have quickly begun to act, Apple still seems to be oblivious.

One of the reasons for their lack of success is their exorbitant pricing strategy of iPhone in a market known for its price sensitivity. The 20% import duty on new imported iPhones done the damages for the company. Considering Apple’s dismal sales throughout the world in 2018, the company might be looking to markets, like India, for a boost. Hence, Apple may soon start manufacturing a few iPhone models – if not all – locally to make it more attractive to its Indian customers.

Future expectations and present differentiation

The price band for the premium segment of smartphones is continuing to expand. At this point in time, it is priced around Rs 30,000- Rs 145,000. Therefore, it has become important to differentiate each price range inside it individually.

What this also means is that the future premium smartphones will be coming with even more innovative features. Some of them may include 5G and multi-gigabit capabilities, unibody button-less design with advance biometrics, Xtended Reality (XR) and gaming. In addition to the features present in the present premium smartphones, this is going to present a pretty sweet proposition.

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